Why Africa needs tech-trusting leaders

Saturday October 19 2019

Students of DHT Senior School in Kisumu on April 12, 2016 explain how their innovation works as they prepare for a science congress. It can’t be business as usual if Africa trusts that science and technology hold the keys to the promised kingdom. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Social and economic projections are unambiguous: Africa is on the cusp of sweeping changes in all the sectors of development, thanks to pervasive technology — no sector is immune.

The next biggest megacities of the world are projected to be set up in Africa, spawning an unprecedented rise in urbanisation.

Largely due to transformative science and technology, the middle class in Africa is expanding fast. The class is demanding more and better services: better education for their children, food and nutrition, health services, transport and communication.

With mortality on the decline, especially for children under the age of five, and improving living conditions, people on the continent are living longer than their parents and grandparents.

A growing and wealthier population needs more food, especially animal protein and grains. This is exerting pressure on livestock farmers to expand their farming.



Crop producers are under pressure to produce more on the same size of land. Land has become the most coveted property, shooting its price through the roof.

Internet and allied technologies have collapsed the boundaries between countries, making it possible for a fish farmer in Kisumu to trade with a fish-processing plant in Kumasi, or a flower farmer in Naivasha to sell to the Netherlands.

The untapped frontiers of artificial intelligence will play a significant role in changing our lives and shaping the contours of the continent.

It is billed to bring a myriad of previously unexperienced challenges. These changes foretell tenuous times ahead. To navigate this turbulence requires sober heads and strong hands.

As leadership guru John Maxwell says, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” Steering and steadying Africa will require decisive, visionary and selfless leadership. Leaders with iron-clad resolve to future-proof their countries, whatever it takes.


Leaders who will size up the future and challenge the gospel of status quo — it can’t be business as usual if Africa trusts that science and technology hold the keys to the promised kingdom.

The continent requires leaders bold enough to call out those among them who fall short and are driven by short-lived rewards.

A leadership ready to forge forward with long-term plans despite some objections, setbacks and criticisms.

More than before, this is the time for Africans to find and nurture leaders fit for 21st-century challenges: leaders with appetite and aptitude for abstracting data and using it to make decisions.

Leaders who have a disdain for projects premised on parochial interests as opposed to the national good.

Africa faces a promising and bright future; one that can be a curse or a blessing. Weak-kneed and inept leaders will neither birth nor bequeath the continent a thriving continent. Committed, vibrant and tech-trusting leaders will.

Wambugu is an informatician. Email:[email protected] @samwambugu2